Trying to pay down debt this summer? These budget friendly activities are fun for the whole family

When you’re working toward paying off your debt, life can often feel like an impossible choice between saving money and enjoying your hard-earned free time. Never has this felt quite so difficult as throughout the COVID-19 pandemic when most of us have spent more (forced) time at home than ever.

Happy young joyful family of four at playground swings

While you might think restricting yourself is the most responsible decision you can make right now, that mindset can often backfire. Just like people who put themselves on overly restrictive diets are likely to overindulge and regain all the weight they worked so hard to lose, overly restrictive budgeters often encounter similar problems.

Remember, a budget is supposed to make your money work for you and bring you closer to the life you want to live. You should never feel like it’s backing you into a corner. You work hard to support your family and better your quality of life, debt or not.

Instead of thinking about all the things you can’t do while you pay off your debts, take this opportunity to try some of the following activities that are high on fun but won’t break the bank. You never know, some of these might stay on your summer schedule long after that debt and this pandemic are but a distant memory.

Visit local parks, playgrounds, and nature preserves

We’re fortunate to live in a country that values and invests in its outdoor spaces. With the exception of our national parks, these are largely free for public use, too!

Embrace the beautiful summer weather and by taking the kids to a local playground — or going for an evening walk somewhere scenic. If you really want to add some excitement (and you have the means to do so), try venturing outside your local area and visiting somewhere you rarely or never get the chance to go.

Cost: Free if within walking distance, less than $20 if you require your own or public transportation.

Re-discover your local library

Many readers will remember a time when accessing the entire breadth of human wisdom required more than pulling a smartphone from their pocket. Those days have long passed, but public libraries have thankfully found plenty of ways to stay relevant in the information age — and provide a valuable public service for children, bookworms, and low-income households across the country.

Beyond checking out books, movies, and music, you can also take advantage of free seminars, workshops, and book readings. Some historic library branches also offer free tours. For family members who have never had to go to the library, this could be an exciting and eye-opening experience.

Cost: Free if within walking distance, less than $20 if you require your own or public transportation.

Take advantage of discount days at zoos, science centres, and recreational facilities

Nothing can spark a child’s imagination or curiosity quite like a museum, zoo, or planetarium. And nothing can tire them out like the local pool or climbing gym. Unfortunately, local amenities just aren’t as affordable as they used to be.

However, many facilities offer significant price reductions on slower days of the week, like toonie Tuesdays and Thursdays. Research the facilities in your area to see whether they offer these kinds of discount days to fit your budget.

Cost: Often less than $10 per person, plus the cost of taking time off work (if necessary) and transportation.

Look for a drive-in theatre in your area

More likely something you’ve seen in a period movie from the 1950s and 1960s than experienced firsthand, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided an unexpected boost to the rapidly declining drive-in movie industry.

Not only is taking in a drive-in movie guaranteed to provide a unique, memorable, and socially distanced viewing experience, the lower overhead for facilities also translates to a cheaper cost for you. Plus, you can save even more by bringing your own snacks

Cost: Usually around $40 per car, compared to roughly $18 per adult and $13 per child for a conventional movie theatre.

Take up a budget-friendly sport

Why is soccer (or football, if you’re so inclined) the world’s most popular sport? A big reason is it’s so easy and affordable for anyone to play — at least from a recreational standpoint. All you need is two feet, a ball, and something to define where the goalposts are.

Of course, soccer is far from the only affordable sport / activities you can play with your family. Other options include:

  • Basketball
  • Tennis
  • Ultimate frisbee
  • Disc golf
  • Catch
  • Bocce
  • Flag football

Cost: You can purchase most required items on this list for less than $20 — especially if you browse online classified sites.

Have a family games night  

Board games have a history dating back at least 6,000 years, giving it a solid claim to the title of original affordable family fun. Card games are nowhere near as ancient but deserve an honourable mention at a relatively sprite 3,000 years.

Certainly, no family wants their night to end in someone getting upset and flipping over the Monopoly board — but there are thankfully dozens of fun and perhaps less stimulating options to choose from. Browse the board games cupboard for some options, or maybe take the opportunity to teach your children one of your favourite card games instead.

Some options include:

  • Chess
  • Checkers
  • Backgammon
  • Clue
  • Snakes and ladders
  • Scrabble
  • Boggle
  • Go fish
  • Cribbage
  • Poker
  • Hearts
  • Gin Rummy

Cost: Most board games cost less than $20 for a basic version, and a pack of cards is usually less than $5. Perhaps avoid online classifieds unless you’re confident the set you’re buying doesn’t have any missing pieces.

Free Confidential Consultation

If your debts have worsened to the point where you can’t afford any of the activities on this list, that may be a sign of more significant issues that require professional attention. MNP offers a no obligation Free Confidential Consultation for all Canadians to assess their financial situation and review their options.

You may qualify for a government regulated debt solution such as Bankruptcy or a Consumer Proposal. But even if you don’t — or don’t think that’s the right option for you — a Licensed Insolvency Trustee can help you access a range of other resources to get the financial fresh start you need and deserve.

The sooner you can get past your debt, the sooner you can get back to enjoying your life and your family, without the financial stress getting in the way. Your local Licensed Insolvency Trustee is here to help. Call us today